Figuring out where to assign the Cubs’ recent draft picks is going to be a little bit different this year because the draft was a month later and there’s no short-season league where college players can start their pro careers. We are probably going to see a few of the more experienced picks matriculate to Myrtle Beach and we might even see one or two make it all the way up to South Bend.
With the understanding that there’s still a lot in the air as bonuses are negotiated and contracts are signed, here are CI’s projections for where each new member of the organization will land. Let’s start with the position players since they are under no restrictions when it comes to their workload.
James Triantos is probably going be thrown right into the mix in Mesa and that’s where he’ll stay all year. Depending upon how he does in the offseason program and spring training next year, I would expect him to begin 2022 at Myrtle Beach.
Casey Opitz was clearly brought on for his defensive skills and ability to guide young pitchers. He doesn’t need to go to Mesa and even Myrtle Beach is a question mark. South Bend is clearly an option for him because it’s less about developing his bat and much more about having him work with some of the org’s up-and-coming pitching prospects. This assignment is one of the most intriguing of the bunch.
Christian Franklin is my favorite pick from the 2021 draft and I would imagine he gets some licks at Myrtle Beach and then starts 2022 at South Bend, at least for a little while. I would not be surprised to see him at Tennessee at some point next year.
Arkansas OF Christian Franklin has looked much more locked in the last week or so.
This home run is an absolute NUKE.
— Joe Doyle (@JoeDoyleMiLB) February 27, 2021
Liam Spence just turned 23 years old and, while that’s not a cause for concern, I would not be surprised to see him at South Bend once the dust settles in August. He has advanced bat-to-ball skills and is an excellent defender, so pushing him to High-A will allow Ed Howard and Kevin Made to continue their development at Myrtle Beach.
Parker Chavers is a Coastal Carolina product and I’m excited to see where the Cubs put him. Considering that he went to college right next to the Pelicans’ ballpark, I’m pretty sure he’s going to end up there for a month and then start next year at South Bend.
Peter Matt will have his immediate future determined by how good a hitter he is. He might follow Spence to South Bend to get some work and could also start there next year as well.
BJ Murray has got some pop and he’s only 20, so I would imagine he will get some time at Mesa and maybe Myrtle Beach, which is probably where he starts 2022.
Christian Olivo should be going Mesa for the rest of this summer and he could start there to begin 2022. Coming out of high school in Puerto Rico, he’s going to need to see more advanced pitching than what he’s used to.
When it comes to the pitchers the Cubs just selected, they might get 10-14 innings in the remaining six weeks so long as they didn’t log too many innings over their respective college and prep seasons. You will see flashes of what they can do, but some of these guys have been shut down for two months and I would take their performance with a grain of salt.
Jordan Wicks should be in South Bend, where he will come in and work one or two innings at a time as a starter/opener. He’s going to get used to the professional lifestyle this year and I expect to see him begin next year at South Bend or Tennessee. His spring training performance is going to dictate where he goes.
21st Overall Pick Jordan Wicks (@jordan_wicks99) features one of the most devastating sliders in the draft 👀 The @Cubs picked a good one! @MLB @PitchingNinja @BaseballAmerica #Rapsodo #MLBDraft #baseball pic.twitter.com/W1Zu41DIX7
— Rapsodo Baseball (@rapsodo) July 14, 2021
Drew Gray is going to head straight to Mesa and stay there the rest of this year. He could start next year at Myrtle Beach, like DJ Herz did, but it’ll be interesting to see how the Cubs handle him.
Riley Martin has already thrown almost 100 innings this year, so I would expect to see him in relief at either Myrtle Beach or South Bend to finish the year. At 23 and with big college K-rates of over 17 per 9 innings, his future will be more determined next year.
Chase Watkins was drafted as a lefty reliever and that’s pretty much where he’s going to stay. He could appear at Myrtle Beach and finish out the year there, then head to South Bend to start 2022.
Frankie Scalzo served as the closer for Grand Canyon University and should get some time this year at South Bend. His spring training next year is going to dictate whether he begins next year at South Bend or Tennessee. Maybe he is the next Ben Leeper, a big-armed reliever who might be too much for Low-A this year.
Zach Leigh should throw some innings at Myrtle Beach this year in relief. Like the rest of the pitchers that sign, his spring training is going to determine where he is assigned next season.
Erian Rodriguez was only committed to a junior college and he became the first of the Cubs’ prep draftees to sign for the $125,000 bonus allotted to the bottom 10 rounds of the draft. Mesa will be his home for the remainder of this season.
If you’re keeping track, you may have noticed that we came up a wee bit shy of 20 names here. That’s because not all of these players are going to sign, a reality VP of Scouting Dan Kantrovitz admitted shortly after the conclusion of the draft. The Cubs’ 12th round pick Teo Banks announced on Twitter that he will be attending Tulane, while 11th round pick Gage Ziehl stated via Instagram that he will attend the University of Miami.
Odds are 18th rounder Dominic Hambley goes to Oregon State while Daniel Avitia, who was selected the following round, will go across the street to Grand Canyon University. Lefty Wilson Cunningham was the Cubs’ final selection at No. 604 overall and should go to college at the University of Chicago. So of the five prep pitchers selected on Day 3 of the draft, Rodriguez is likely the only one who will end up in the system.
There will also be a slew of undrafted free agents coming aboard in the next few days and weeks, many of whom will factor into the mix for the lower-level affiliates this summer.